With the 188th overall pick in the 6th round of the 2017 NFL Draft, the New York Jets selected running back Elijah McGuire from Louisiana-Lafayette . Let’s take a closer look at his game and how he fits with the Jets offense…
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- 2013: 103 carries, 863 yards, 8 TD, 22 receptions, 384 yards, 3 TD
- 2014: 166 carries, 1,264 yards, 14 TD, 45 receptions, 468 yards, 2 TD
- 2015: 209 carries, 1,047 yards, 13 TD, 34 receptions, 304 yards, 3 TD
- 2016: 232 carries, 1,127 yards, 7 TD, 29 receptions, 238 yards, 2 TD
- Return Stats: 28 punt returns, 227 yards, 3 kick returns, 46 yards
- 5 foot 11
- 208 pounds
- 4.53 forty yard dash
- 36 inch vertical jump
- 22 Years Old
- Player Profile Comparison – Charles Sims
McGuire was one of the most talented pass catching running backs in the NFL Draft. He has the hand eye coordination of a receiver, attacks the football and is extremely comfortable running routes, both from the slot or the backfield. The ability to move him around the formation and get him matched up on linebackers is a valuable weapon for any offensive coordinator.
McGuire has a good natural burst and impressive acceleration, particularly to the corner on outside runs. He is able to spring quickly off his plant foot and should fit well running in a zone blocking scheme. Despite a foot injury last year, he still showed up every week and put up consistent production through all four years of college. He has a nose for the end-zone, as 52 career touchdowns should not be discounted at any level.
McGuire is a fairly weak runner and rarely breaks tackles (he never finished with more than five in a single season). He is going to struggle in-between the tackles at the next level and is too easily knocked off his path for a prospective every down back. McGuire’s vision can leave something to be desired and he often lacks patience when it comes to letting the blocks in front of him develop.
If McGuire is going to be a factor in the passing game, he will need to improve the consistency of his pass protection. If you can’t pass pro, you can’t be a third down back in the NFL. He was not asked to do it frequently in college but when he was, he lacked the necessary form and strength.
McGuire is entering a favorable situation in the Jets running back room. Matt Forte is 31 and in his final year with the team. Bilal Powell usually misses a few games each season due to injury, so it is fair expect McGuire to receive a decent amount of opportunities as both a runner and pass catcher in his rookie year. The internal expectation is that John Morton will heavily integrate the running backs in the passing game, which fits perfectly with McGuire’s skill set. It is hard to think of a better veteran dual threat running back for McGuire to learn behind than Forte, who thrived in the role throughout a successful career with the Chicago Bears. There shouldn’t be any player currently on the roster who threatens his role as the team’s third running back to the open season. McGuire projects to a useful role player and backup as a rookie, who will be poised for a much larger role in 2018. He will also be in the mix as both a punt and kick returner.
McGuire’s versatility and athleticism made him a worthwhile flier in the 6th round, particularly if he can develop into a competent returner. The Jets don’t need him to be an every down back but if he can improve his pass protection to compliment his terrific natural receiving ability, he can develop into a useful dual threat offensive weapon. McGuire is not going to do much damage between the tackles or regularly run through any defenders but if the Jets can scheme him in space and get him matched up on linebackers regularly in the passing game, he has big play capability. It would be surprising if he didn’t get at least 50-75 offensive touches his rookie year as the team gradually prepares to move on from Matt Forte. He is also likely to receive at least a few shots deep at punt returner.
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